The NEO Follow-Up Project

International Astronomical Search Collaboration

Near earth object

ARI comet confirmation Aug 2006 by P. Miller Hardin-Simmons University.

near earth objects

Confirmation of NEO 2008 EF9 on 2008 03 09

This NEO is traveling at a rate of 2,691 arc/sec. per hour.


NEO Follow-up Project - Overview

So why study Near Earth Objects in the first place?   Because there is a real possible threat that the Earth could be struck by an asteroid or near-Earth Object. 

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid's potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. Specifically, all asteroids with an Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 AU or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs. In other words, asteroids that can't get any closer to the Earth (i.e. MOID) than 0.05 AU (roughly 7,480,000 km or 4,650,000 mi) or are smaller than about 150 m (500 ft) in diameter (i.e. H = 22.0 with assumed albedo of 13%) are not considered PHAs.

This "potential'' to make close Earth approaches does not mean a PHA will impact the Earth. It only means there is a possibility for such a threat. By monitoring these PHAs and updating their orbits as new observations become available, we can better predict the close-approach statistics and thus their Earth-impact threat.

The NEO Follow-Up Project  involves conducting Near Earth Object Observations of new objects as they are discovered by the large survey telescopes such as PanSTARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey, Mt. Lemmon Survey, SpaceWatch and others. 

NEO data on newly discovered objects is published at the Minor Planet Center (MPC) and on the NASA/JPL Horizons website.  Our goal to make as many observations of these newly discovered objects as possible.   Once all of these objects have been imaged, we will follow-up on other NEOs that have not been seen recently.   The NEO Follow-up Project will attempt to recover NEOs that are listed on the MPC Bright Recovery Opportunities and Faint Recovery Opportunties.   Some of these objects have not been seen for many years.  Each month the Astronomical Research Institute provides the MPC with the positions on hundreds of asteroids.   

Observations by the Astronomical Research Observatory are published in the IAU Electronic Circulars and in the Minor Planet Center's Electronic Circulars.

This project is funded by a NASA grant, NNX13AM42G.


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